As the new year clocked in, it brings a smile on everyone’s face and joy at every home. But very soon, the young minds are occupied with the burden of fresh bouts of examination and the arduous pressure of performance. Exams are a source of stress for both - children and parents. Various factors contribute to stress like competitiveness, extreme emphasis on marks, fear of missing future opportunities, social embarrassment, etc. It is imperative for parents to inculcate approaches that don't result in cumulative stress, rather incorporate strategies that help children in relieving stress and enhancing outcome. Therefore, parenting becomes a very dynamic process that requires constant evolution to provide warmth, good values, a sense of trust, self-belief, openness to experiences rather than projecting one's own fears, apprehensions, and negative experiences from one own life.
To cope with exam stress, children need a positive environment and parents need to enable that. Parents and peers play a significant role in facilitating the child's preparation and performance during examinations.
Salient features for parents to help their children to overcome stress
1. The brain gets saturated and the attention threshold would be attained by 45 minutes to one hour. Encourage the child to take a 5 -10 minutes break.
2. Encourage the child to engage in relaxation activities such as listening to instrumental music, taking a short walk in the fresh air, hydrating oneself, engaging in non-academic conversations, etc.
3. Do not engage in revising, listening to lyrical music, calling up peers to discuss studies, watching television, playing online games, snacking junk food, etc. during breaks.
4. Encourage the child in concentration exercises like puzzles and mazes, sudoku, spot the difference, spotting the tone, etc. to improve concentration and thus memory.
5. Unburden the child and his expectations on scores by appreciating the effort the child puts in rather than the outcome.
6. Encourage the child by identifying their strengths and reinforce them.
7. Avoid micromanagement of their time and encourage the outdoor activity of their choice.
8. Help the child have a healthy diet like fruits, dates, eggs, milk, nuts which helps in better brain activity.
9. Communicate the child of need for good sleep. It is common practice to lose sleep during stress. This only worsens the performance by poor memory retrieval mechanism even after elaborate preparation.
10. Active listening of the child's concerns lay off their anxiety and improves performance. It is important that the parents do not project their fears and expectations on the child.
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